The needler in the haystack.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Assemblyman Bramnick's excellent idea

In the center, native grasses; on the left, wild fox grapes
which the critters in the back yard love. Here on busy
West 7th Street, we have rabbits, raccoons and a buck.

So Plainfield hometown kid and GOP Assembly leader Jon Bramnick is sponsoring legislation to help homeowners who want to create native vegetative habitats in their yards get around local zoning rules that generally prefer oceans of green grass as front yards.

I suspect that the power behind this thrust is actually coming from his wife, Pat Brentano, a painter whose work features landscapes and nature.

A Ledger story over the weekend (see here), profiled Bramnick's effort to team with AudubonNJ to help homeowners who wish to provide habitats for pollinators and wildlife and do their bit to help manage water runoff and pesticides leaching out of chemically-treated lawns.

My brother and his family live in Arizona. In Tucson, where he and his wife have a home, green lawns are a rarity. Folks are very sensitive to water issues (they get their water from the Colorado River) and their yards are basically desert with occasional wild flowers or a Saguaro here or there.

Farther north near Phoenix, where one of his daughters lives, the scene is quite different. There, many people have extensively -- and expensively -- cultivated green grass lawns, which are not only unnatural for the area, but indefensible in light of waste of water resources.

Closer to home, here in Plainfield, lawns may not be as much a threat to our water infrastructure, but they are costly and demanding in other ways.

We have long planted native grasses and other critter-friendly plants (such as butterfly-bush) in our very large back yard. Maybe this legislation will give us a reason to think about converting the front yard, too.

One thing about this bill strikes me as ironic, though.

I always thought Republicans were the party of less government, not more. Yet Bramnick and his GOP co-sponsors are falling back on the old Democratic practice of using more government activity to achieve a social good.

Mutatis mutandis.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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